Friday, August 27, 2010

The Buzz on The Fuzz

Received a helpful email today from the Toronto Cyclists Union on how to avoid traffic tickets on your bike ... Read on to save some dough (and stay safe while not contributing to cyclists' bad reputation in this city)!

Fellow Cyclists,

Please note that Toronto Police are now regularly paying closer attention to the behaviors of cyclists on the road, and giving tickets for infractions. Several people have noted getting ticketed this week in particular.

This is not all bad news of course. With this increased attention comes a greater awareness of the negative impacts that some driver behaviours / driving infractions have on the cycling population, along with increased ticketing for these actions. Although we don’t like to discuss it much, there are many drivers and cyclists that drive and ride recklessly and are sometimes deserving of fines – though unpopular, penalties are proven to be an effective tool to help motivate behavior change.

That said, many feel that an $85 fine for not having a bell is unreasonable, in particular when your voice can be more effective in many cases… Unreasonable or not, it’s the law and you can avoid this particular fine by spending a mere $5 on a bell and 5 minutes installing it. Besides, the sound of bike bells is so lovely, the more the merrier!

Please take a moment to consider your cycling habits (good and bad) and remember that cyclists, as per the Highway Traffic Act, must follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles, and are subject to many of the same fines. Cyclists are required by law to have front and rear lights after dusk and before dawn, to have reflective tape on the front and back of their bike frame, to signal direction & lane changes, etc...

Some fines that apply to cyclists:

- Disobey stop sign or fail to stop $85
- Fail to signal for stop or turn $85
- Cyclist riding in or along crosswalk (this included X-walks, and pedestrian crossings at intersections) $85
- Red light, fail to stop $260 - plus 5 costs plus $60 victim surcharge = $ 325
- Red light: proceed before green $260
- Fail to stop on right for emergency vehicle $400
- Careless driving $400 - plus 5 costs plus $90 victim surcharge = $500

Additional cycling related infractions for which you can be fined can be viewed at this excellent City of Toronto site. Please note however that although the fines for Running a red light, and Careless driving have recently been increased, these changes are not yet reflected on the City of Toronto site.

Demerit Points
One very common misconception/error made by Police is that demerit points apply to cyclists.

Demerit Points DO NOT apply for cycling infractions

Please note that in response to the confusion around whether or not Demerit Points apply to cyclist, the yellow infraction tickets have recently been modified to show clearly that the fine is for a cycling related infraction.

Two things to look for on the ticket:

1. Near the top there is a 'Motor Vehicle Involved' box - the officer should put a check in the '[ ] N' box to indicate ‘No’.

2. Near the bottom is where a license plate number would be included - this should be left blank, and then in the license plate code box next to it, a 'C' should be marked to indicate Cyclist.

It is advisable to provide ID when asked to do so by police. If you do not regularly carry ID on you, you can simply identify yourself, and provide your pertinent information, verbally – you are legally allowed to do this. Most officers will request a driver’s license because it helps them to know your level of understanding of the rules of the road.

Please note: If you know that you have made a mistake and are in contravention of the law, it is better to accept the ticket gracefully rather than lose your cool or fight with police. Even if you feel you have not done anything wrong, arguing with a police officer is rarely a good idea and can lead to more problems than it’s worth.

If you, or someone you know has been ticketed incorrectly, or been treated poorly by police when stopped for an infraction, please connect with ARC (Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists)

Safe cycling,
Yvonne & the bike union team

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How can I resist??

The 2011 Trek line up has arrived for your viewing pleasure. has got all the beauties. Top of my wish list:

This is the Top Fuel 9.8 WSD. Chic lavendar paint job. New OCLV Mountain Carbon stands up to any log or rock you knock around in the line of duty. Cables run inside the always-striking Top Fuel frame.

My financial advisor would have a hissy fit but if there was ever a year to buy a bike, this is it. Resist I must ... le sigh.

Deep Summer Photo Challenge

Thanks to the influence of the snowboarders in my life, the Deep Winter Photo Challenge is something I look forward to every year. And then I hear about the Deep Summer photo Challenge ... what?!

Competitors' slide shows are now starting to show up on the internet and you don't want to skip over these. I found the below from the Coastal Riders' blog, and it wasn't even one of the top 3! If you read their post, you'll see that Jordan Manley won the show. Looked him up and if I can just add an aside: if you're looking for gift ideas, I'll take any one of his prints. Especially this one:

Here's the slide show from runner-up "wild card"Adrian Marcoux:

Deep Summer Slide show from Dirt Tales on Vimeo.

Steven Lloyd's entry:

Deep summer photo comp whistler 2010 steve lloyd from steven lloyd on Vimeo.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Skipping The A Race. No Provincial Championships For Me.

2010 has been an interesting season -- at times, I would say it's even been a struggle (and not the usual bike race type struggle).

2009 was undeniably the best season of my life. I did everything the way I wanted to. Good power work, religious spinning, cross training and a lengthy list of races (some even with podium finishes and cheques!)

This year, my priorities changed. To compete at this level requires a huge committment. It means that after work, training/racing and everything that goes with it takes up all the remaining oxygen. And in previous years, that was just fine with me.

This year, I wanted more. Not more from myself as an athlete; but more from myself as a friend, sister, girlfriend, daughter, earthling. I wanted to be able to raise a glass on a friday night with friends without having to say "no thanks, I'm training". I wanted to stay up late, spend weekends at cottages with no bikes, visit family in my home town and just spend the morning chatting over coffee, instead of jumping out of bed at the crack of dawn to get endurance miles in "before the day starts". I wanted to see the Olympics ... but I finally understood that I wouldn't be going as an athlete, and that was OKAY!!

So yes, 2010 has been a different sort of year.

And what better way to finish it off than by blowing off the Provincial Championships.

Sorry Chico, I'm sure it's a lovely course, and I was really looking forward to racing it. But something better came along. I think in the long run, memories of yet another "8th place finish" will pale in comparison to ones of campfires and all night euchre tournaments, fishing, hiking and dominoes by lantern-light with mom, dad and sis at our place on Kama Bay. We haven't all been together there in about 15 years.

So good luck to all the racers. Maybe see you for some of the non-ocup stuff in the fall. Otherwise, til 2011!

Guide to Dating Your Athlete

I saw this on Spak's blog, who saw it on MTBR and I thought it was funny because it's true. Mostly. Just the other night my man tried to take a piece of pizza off my plate ... and he was never seen again.

A dating guide to understanding your triathlete (or runner or cyclist...)

"I am an outdoors type of person." Really means: I train in any type of weather. If its raining, snowing, 90 degrees w/100% humidity, or winds gusting at 30 mph. I don't want to hear any complaints because I will still train in it and you're just a big wuss for complaining about it.

"I enjoy riding my bike." Really means: With or w/o aero bars, alone or in a peloton, I don't care. If you can't do a spur of the moment 30 miler then you're not my type. I will let you draft, but if you can't hang and I drop you - I will see you later. I am a capable mechanic, but don't expect me to change your flats or tune your bike. You need to learn that on your own.

"I enjoy jogging." Really means: Lets run hills until we puke. I have just as many shoes as you only mine are better because they are functional and all look the same.

"I enjoy dining out." Really means: I enjoy eating out, in or anywhere else I can find food. Don't be shy because with the amount of food I eat, you can have that main entree instead of a salad and you will still look as though you eat like a rabbit in comparison. Don't get your limbs too close though as I may take a bite out of you. Most importantly don't expect any taste off my plate unless you can bring something to the party like more food. Eventually though if you're not burning 4,000+ calories a day your going to plump up and have a terrible complex due to watching me eat deserts and not gain any weight. Friends and family will eventually decide not to dine with us anymore due to my horrid table manners. Oh, and don't ask me any questions during breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon lunch, dinner or recovery dinner as it does not lend to efficient food intake.

"I enjoy quiet walks on the beach." Really means: Walks on the beach warming up into an 8 mile run and then plunging myself in the ocean for a 2 miler. If you get in my way you're going to find out what mass start is and let me assure you that you don't want to find out.

"I find fulfilment in charitable work." Really means: If I am not racing, I am volunteering or cheering on my buddies and I expect you to be there along side me as I stand out in 90 degree weather for 8 hours handing out sports drink to cyclists going 20 mph. Just stick the ol' arm out there and hope it doesn't get taken off.

"I enjoy sharing quiet moments together." Really means: It's taper time. Just back off because I am strategizing, trying to get into the zone and in a pissy mood because I am worried about my "A" race and can't workout.

"I am an active person." Really means: Aside from my 40 hour job, and the 8 mandatory hours of sleep a night. 10 hours a week are devoted to me during the off-season and 20 during race season leaving us 4 hours. 2 of which are spent inhaling food and you not talking to me, so lets make the best of the 2 hours we will spend together on average each day. If you are a licensed massage therapist or doctor this would make the most optimal use of our time together. Nutritionist is also acceptable, but I probably already know just as much as you.

"I enjoy road trips and vacations." Really means: You have your choice of British Columbia, Wisconsin, Idaho, Florida, California, Arizona, and New York, but don't expect to do much site seeing. But if I get enough support from you we might be able to include Hawaii in there.

"I enjoy site seeing." Really means: Lets grab a mountain bike and get our HR's up to 90%. There's plenty of time to look around on the descent as trees and bushes whiz by you at 40 mph.

"I like stimulating conversation." Really means: while we are running, we can talk about food. Then we can talk about how we decided what to wear on this run based on the temperature at start time versus the temperature at the time we expect to finish, how horribly out of shape we are, how many miles we did last week, and how many we will do this week and next week. Then we can talk about food.

"I enjoy relaxing soaks in the tub." Really Means: I'm going to stop on the way home and buy two bags of ice, throw them in the tub with some water, and sit in this torture chamber for 30 minutes.

"I'm interested in photography" Really Means: My camera is permanently perched a tripod in front of my trainer. I obsess over taking photos of my bike position and analyzing them to get the perfect set-up.

"I'm into in technology" Really Means: My HRM and bike computer are my best friends. Until you can give me some hard data that can improve my training, don't bother trying to buddy up to me. You could one day break into the top three if you recognize and feed my dependancy by buying me more gear.

Article courtesy of an anonymous Triathlete who is likely still single, from Toronto, and who completed rather well the Lake Placid Ironman in 2006. For a small fee we'll connect you to this handsome and successful individual...(works "downtown" Toronto in the "money business")

Monday, August 9, 2010

Race Report: Ocup #6, Kelso

I had a good feeling about Kelso. Despite being laid low with strep leading up to the race, not to mention my general lacklustred-ness this season, I still had a warm little corner of my heart for this race. I followed Steve Neal's advice for the first week after recovering, and then had some great rides at the start of last week to shock ... errr, welcome ... my body back into some kind of shape. Top it all off with a totally zen preride on Wednesday and that would have been plenty for me. But to seal the deal, I had the support of not one, not two, but of SIX whole cheerleaders, just for me. Spoiled!!

Gerhard's parents happened to be in town the weekend of the race and being the good sports they are, were totally game to head out to Milton for race day. Gerhard and Adlar, his little bro, came too. And my parents made the trip from Port Elgin, so my stoke was all time.

Kelso can be an intimidating course, given the ginormous climb right off the bat. But having my squad lining the trail turned my usual strategy of survival into one of actual hunting and bike racing I haven't yet enjoyed this season. They'll have to come to all my races from now on, I think.

Anyway, with G's mom to help move things along in the morning, we got out right on schedule and I even had extra hands to load up all the stuff. Didn't even have to drive. Mellow. She kept asking me what she could do to help and the concept was so foreign to me I had a hard time coming up with an answer. And yet still, she seemed to know what to do. Awesome. We got to the venue, got sorted and then I left them to explore while I got ready.

At this time, I should also mention another contributor to my best race this season: Jerome! On Tuesday night, he was kind enough to give me a crash course on elite level tuning. We went over my bike inch by inch, component by component and lubed, tightened, trued and screwed every possible surface. My bike FINALLY felt like my bike when we were through, and I left with knowledge, a perfectly-squishy ride, and a shopping list. That's not to say the guys in the shop don't do a fantastic job, but they're very busy gentlemen, and haven't usually got 2.5 hours to spend on one bike. Which mine needed. Things were wrong with it I didn't even know could be wrong.

Speaking of the shop, my next thanks is to Owen and the guys for helping me complete and install said list at the shop. All new contact points: grips, saddle and cleats.

Back to race day: installing a new saddle is second only to changing tires for my least favourite bike-maintenance activity. I'm never sure of what I'm doing and it seems like I'm adjusting things forever after, even with careful measurements. It never feels the same. Anyway, with my old saddle bent (how'd THAT happen?) there was no getting around it. Although I suspect that this bent saddle business has a lot to do with why my shoulder pops out all the time. Hmmm. So better to have a saddle that's a bit too far forward or back than one that is literally hurting me. During the race I realized that I move around so much it probably doesn't make that much difference.

Anyway, warm up. Decide to second-guess saddle position. Twice. Back to the van for adjustments.

Get sorted.

Get start bottle from mom.

Get good luck kiss from G.

Get going!

Up we went. Our pack quickly turned into a single file train up the service road climb. The rest of the course was so open and fast that unless you put time into your competition on the climb, you probably wouldn't put much time into them at all. With that in mind, I was happy to be in the front half of our group. And then the girl in front of me stalled, my wheel hit hers, the girl behind me hit mine, and we all had our feet down while the front of the train steamed away.

Thus unseated, I ran for it. Oh my god how I hate to run from a sudden stop when my heart rate is red lined. On the bright side, this little slip made me angry, in a good way, and I put it into my pedals. The result was a pretty awesome little bike race between me and Erica Bota for the first two laps. Back and forth a bunch of times, then riding with each other in sight for sections, before I hit a wall on the third climb and couldn't close the gap. After Erica, I never saw another girl.

But I did see my cheerleaders!! Every lap they were in a different section, snapping pictures, and yelling really loud. Gerhard's dad has a booming voice, and he isn't shy. My mom stood out no matter what in her pretty blue outfit, so even as I came barreling out of the single track, and everything blurs except the trail in front of me, I could see her.

I'll just say one more time, support is so, so awesome. Every mountain bike racer will tell you hearing your name pulls out a little bit more from tired muscles and pumping heart.

So then I finished and stuff. Got a little air on the finishing stretch, collected chocolate milk and congratulated Erica before heading over to regroup with my "team". Congrats to Sue Stephens, the day's winner! The only mark on my day was the mark I left on my bike when I wobbly-kneed tried to dismount and clipped the top tube with my cleat. DOOOOHHHH. Alas. It's a mountain bike, I guess.

Oh, another little story: after the race Chico asked me "for a word". I was worried I was in trouble, and sure enough, someone had apparently suggested that a "female Sweet Pete's Elite rider caused a crash in some double track". Huh? I had no recollection of this run-in and relayed the story of the only time I had contact with another rider. It was when HE hit ME sliding out of a high speed turn. Neither of us went down, and he apologized when he passed me shortly after. Anyway, if there was another incident, and you were involved and are reading this, I assure you, I was not aware of it. I was pushing so hard I had that annoying loss of hearing that feels like there's water in your ear and all you can hear is your pulse and your breathing. So if there was some missed communication I'm sorry, and I'm sorry you crashed.

Besides that little question mark, I was in amazing spirits. I rode well, I rode my best, I had a great result (8th [for the fourth race out of five], collecting 6th place points thanks to two Kiwis from New Zealand's visiting national team ahead of me) and re-ignited the love of going fast on bikes from wherever it was flickering all season. Just in time for fall racing and a winter of getting back on track I'd say.

We closed the day with a proper meeting-of-the-families in Milton at an Irish Pub (that also served Mexican, Greek and Indian) complete with fishing stories.

As if the day wasn't good enough, mom sent us back to Toronto with fresh farm fare, and BAKING. Mmmmm, cracked wheat chocolate chip cookies and fresh zucchini bread. I'm a lucky girl.

Thanks to Mom, Dad, Gerhard, Adlar, Gerhard (G's dad), Christine, Jerome, Owen and the shop, and Steve Varga for feeding me.

Can't believe there's just one left!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Max Heart Rate - For the Ladies

I subscribe to the montly "Women's Cycling" newsletter and today it had this little gem:

If you are a lady, and use a heart rate monitor to gage your workouts, you might be working too hard!

I rely on testing to see what my maximum heart rate is but I can see now why I was justified in doing that -- the old forumla is WRONG!

Old forumla: 220 minus your age.

New forumla: 206 minus 88% of your age.

Using the new forumla, guess what! I got a number that actually makes a lot more sense compared to test results. So there ya go!

Original article printed in NYTimes

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rock Statues!

A man I met way back in the winter time, Peter Riedel, has made the Toronto Star today! Remember this guy?

Peter relaxes/gets a little workout by finding rocks' natural balancing points and piling them up into interesting statues.

Today, he was the subject of intrigue as people tried to figure out who had put new rock statues in the Humber. I knew right away who it was! And apparently it's been confirmed. Cool.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thank You, John Graves Simcoe!

Great weekend with lots of riding and relaxing. Only complaint was that the sun only wanted to cooperate while I was on the bike ... so I'll have to take a rain cheque on the beach day I had planned I guess. Uh, no pun intended.

Hope everyone had a great long weekend! Thanks to Kim and Bryan for hosting G and I!